September 11, 2014

TIFF Wed Sept 10: Jumbled missives, a missing psychotherapist and the shame of a damp bathing suit

Past the midway point now. Audience members showing signs of being tired and cranky and needing to be put down for a nap.

A Second Chance [Denmark, Suzanne Bier, 3] When his infant son dies. A compassionate cop (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) swaps the body for the living child of a junkie couple. Compelling acted and directed, but the script has to expend a lot of effort making its premise seem believable.

Impressive cast includes all the great male Danish actors who aren't Mads Mikkelsen.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is such a dedicated actor that he regrew his hand for the role.

Wet Bum [Canada, Lindsay McKay, 4] Awkward 14 year old grapples with an attraction to her untrustworthy lifeguard instructor and gets to know residents of the retirement home where she has an after school cleaning job. Quiet, grounded coming of age drama shows a first time director in command of mood and image.

Hill of Freedom [South Korea, Hong Sang-soo, 4] Woman reads letters about the time a Japanese man spent waiting to find her--but she jumbles the pages, so the scenes play out of order. Sweet, funny meditation on time, language and longing.

Elephant Song [Canada, Charles Binamé, 4] Stern psychiatrist (Bruce Greenwood) quizzes brilliant, game-playing mental patient (Xavier Dolan) on a colleague's disappearance. Acting duels nest within acting duels in this stage play adaptation.

If this movie gets seen it will mean big acting opportunities for Dolan, until now known for appearances in French in highly praised films he directs himself.

Co-star Catherine Keener was there to help intro the film. I know you all depend on me for fashion writing, so I'll describe her dress as black, sparkly and triangular.

Today reminds us that an umbrella is a key component of a well-packed festival bag--with a plastic bag to put it in, of course. Though directors find it very moving when they see festgoers lined up in the rain waiting to get into their movies, so there you go.

The Golden Era [China, Ann Hui, 4.5] Biopic follows the work and tortured love life of pioneering woman writer Xiao Hong  against the chaos of the Chinese war years. By declining to dramatize events not directly attested to in first hand accounts, and through distancing devices like time jumps and direct address, this biography suggests the unknowability of its, or any other, life.

Someone with a frame of reference for all the writers featured in this biopic might react to it quite differently. It's like reviewing a Hemingway movie without having heard of him before.

Upgraded half a star since original posting.

The Birds: Creep


Click here for the complete strip archive.